Protesters supported local ethnic minority communities in Tsim Sha Tsui on Wednesday, gathering for a singalong three days after a police water cannon sprayed blue dye on the entrance of nearby Kowloon Mosque.
The rally was held after members from the Muslim community said they wanted to move on from what the police force called the accidental dousing of the mosque on Sunday. Ethnic minority community leaders and the mosque’s management had called for the community to accept the apologies offered by the government and police officials.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung went to the mosque on Monday to deliver their apologies in person. The police force said in a press conference the same day that the water canon was deployed to protect the mosque amid concerns that it would be targeted by protesters.
On Tuesday, Mohan Chugani, the former president of the Indian Association of Hong Kong, lodged a complaint asking the police to admit that the small group of people outside the mosque at the time of the spraying were not protesters. Chugani was among those sprayed at the time.
But on Wednesday night, Chugani told Lam at a cocktail reception held by the Indian Chamber of Commerce that her apology was accepted.
“She asked me to stay cool and not to be so angry. And I told her that her apology was accepted and I am cool,” Chugani said, describing the exchange as courteous.
Outside Kowloon Mosque on Wednesday, blue stains were still apparent on the fences around the stairs. But several worshippers who came to pray said they were no longer distressed about Sunday’s incident.
Fahim Butt, 34, a native of Pakistan who has lived in Hong Kong for 13 years, said he had been praying at the mosque an hour before the water cannon spraying. He said he felt “pain and anger” after seeing blue dye on the mosque’s entrance.
Some Muslims were still privately angry, he said, but most Muslims would support the message sent out on Monday from Chief Imam Muhammad Arshad to accept the government’s apology.
“You cannot touch anybody’s religion, especially the places of prayer, [no matter if it is] a temple, mosque or church,” said Butt. “We should follow the chief imam and the Muslim community, but on our own side [privately] we are still angry.”
Mohamed, 24, was born and raised in Hong Kong to an Indian family. He helped clean up the mosque on Sunday, but no longer felt the incident was a “big deal”.
“Most of our community feels that it’s a mistake,” he said. “We cleaned it up and then we go on with our lives. That’s how it is.”
Asad Cheema, 25, works at a mobile phone shop in Chungking Mansions. He is from Pakistan and has lived in Hong Kong for nearly 11 years. He said he was no longer angry after government and police apologies, and he thanked everyone, including protesters, who helped clean up the mosque.
“We want peace,” he said.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Chungking Mansions on at 7pm on Wednesday for a flash mob event to show support for the ethnic minority community and thank them for their support in the anti-government protest movement.
The crowd, many in masks and dressed in black, sang protest anthems, including Glory to Hong Kong, and Cantonese songs by the popular local band Beyond.
One of the onlookers outside Chungking Mansions was KK Khan, 34, a Muslim who helped distribute bottles of water to protesters on Sunday.
Khan, who owns a mobile phone shop in Chungking Mansions, said most people from the city’s ethnic minority communities were peaceful people who did not want any kind of violence. He said he hoped the protesters and the government would find a solution to the crisis.
“Hong Kong is a very peaceful place,” said Khan. “We hope we can get Hong Kong back as what it was,” said Khan.
Fan, a 33-year-old native Hongkonger, pointed out that many ethnic minority members had taken part in the protests.
“Many South Asians actually love our city very much. They love the city as much as we do,” he said. “We should stay together so we can get through things.”